Pet King - Chapter 33
"Do you have…"
Before he could finish his question, the Samoyed excitedly rushed between the legs of the new guests and spit out its tongue, desperately trying to act cute. This type of self-defeating energy left even Zhang Zian without words.
The chubby little boy stopped crying, staring at the Samoyed.
The man pointed to the dog and asked his son, "What do you think of this dog?"
The chubby boy did not speak but squatted down and stretched his hand out to the dog. The Samoyed immediately put its two forepaws up to take the hand.
The boy’s crying turned into a big smile, and he used his other hand to pat the dog’s neck.
"Good dog! Good dog!"
"Oh!" The man sighed heavily and took out a pack of cigarettes from his pocket. He put one into his mouth and handed one to Zhang Zian.
"Brother, do you smoke?"
"No, thank you," Zhang Zian declined because he still hadn’t figured out the situation. He had heard that there was a new opioid now that could befuddle a person in one breath. What would he do if a handsome man like him had been drugged and robbed?
Before Zhang Zian could even ask about the situation, the man immediately started chattering.
"This child has been home in the country every summer vacation, and today the yellow dog at the old house died."
"Oh." Zhang Zian understood. No wonder the child was so sad.
"His mother and I have been very busy with work, so we send him to the countryside every summer so his grandfather can take care of him. All of his schoolmates are in the city. There were no computers in the country home, so he could only play with the dog. They would run wild with each other, which even made him forget about completing his summer homework. Every time school started and he had to return to the city, he cried, not wanting to leave. Alas, the dog was really too old, with only a few teeth left. There were times last year that it couldn’t even keep up with the boy. I should have thought of this earlier, but this year…" The man did not go on.
After a while, he said, "The dog had survived this summer. Now school has started, and many relatives came over. I was not at home at the time, and my boy asked how the yellow dog was. The relatives said that two days after the boy left…"
Zhang Zian also gave a big sigh as he remembered his parents, whose love was only separated by death. That was such an uncomfortable feeling. In the blink of an eye, they were separated by yin and yang.
This child must have regretted not staying an extra day to be with the dog at its time of death, but the dog must have tried hard, too, and strived to insist on the last breath, to let its little master see its last weak moment.
The man patted his son's head with sympathy.
"This kid cried all day, and the relatives didn’t know what to do with him. They left before I even got home. I told my boy that I would buy him another one."
In front of Zhang Zian's eyes emerged a picture. In the hot, sunburned country, the deafening cicadas roared. A boy wearing a tank top and shorts played slapstick with a loyal yellow dog, running against the wind to the hills, stepping on pebbles across the river, catching dragonflies, grasshoppers, butterflies, fish, and shrimp, and running until they were hot and tired. The dog would lie on the grass with its tongue outstretched, and the chubby kid would lie on top of him, wiping sweat with his elbow. It must have been a very, very happy day.
Trees grew taller day by day, while the river froze and then melted. The little boy grew up year after year, while the dog grew older every year. Gradually, the yellow dog had more trouble catching up with the little boy, its eyes becoming muddy, its hair becoming sparse, its body becoming thin, and its appetite growing less, but they still played every day together.
A lot of things had happened in that last summer, and it had become a permanent stagnation. The boy had a premonition of sorts, thus driving him to ask so eagerly of the yellow dog when the relatives came to visit.
However, the dog certainly did not leave with regret, as it had longed for heaven.
When the man had finished his cigarette and was snuffing out the butt, he said, "Well, boss, I’m not going to keep you any longer. I want this dog, how much is it?"
"Three thousand," said Zhang Zian.
The man nodded.
"A little expensive, but since the child likes him, I would spend any amount of money to buy this dog for him, as compensation for not being there in the summer all these years. We will take care of his dog together."
Zhang Zian patted the back of the Samoyed, but it turned away from him, not even looking at him. It did not look at all sad to leave the shop and immediately turned its head to please his new owners.
Zhang Zian couldn’t help but playfully scold in his heart. "This snobbish dog! Tossing me aside after getting sold to new masters! And I had felt sympathy for it, being all alone in the shop."
Out of the three pets sold today, the Samoyed was the last one but may have been the most fortunate. The father and the son who had suffered such a sad loss would be sure to spoil it and look after it well as long as it acted as cute as it could.
The chubby boy and the Samoyed had already begun to play with each other when the man and Zhang Zian arrived at the counter to pay.
The man turned and looked at the Samoyed and asked, "Boss, does this dog have any health problems? I don’t want to buy a dog that will become sick after a few days at home!"
Zhang Zian said, "You can rest assured that this dog has just gotten a vaccine. Here is the certification."
Zhang Zian gave the receipt, certificate, and the sales agreement to the man.
"The agreement is valid as long as the vaccine is valid. If the dog has an infectious disease, you can come back to me at any time. I will be responsible for its health."
The man nodded, reassured, and Zhang Zian said, "I have a dog training guide that I wrote myself. You can take one if you need…"
The man waved his hand in dismissal.
"No need, no need, this is not the first dog that we have owned."
"How about some other things, like dog food?" Zhang Zian did not want to lose any chance to earn extra money.
"Not today, the kid’s mom should be worried by now. We’ll see you in a couple of days." The man beckoned to the boy. "Come on, son, let’s go home."
The chubby little boy picked up the Samoyed and followed the man out. The dog’s head peeked over the boy’s shoulders and gazed at Zhang Zian with its tongue outstretched, until it could not see him anymore.
Zhang Zian was suddenly struck with sadness, and he stood at the door for a long time, watching the passing pedestrians who didn’t notice the bittersweet feeling in his heart.
"It’s finally quiet in here!"
He returned to the store, looking at the empty display cabinets and cages, leaving only the hamster to wake up from its daytime nap, ignorantly prepared to start its nightlife. When the three pets were there, Zhang Zian was constantly worrying about selling them, but now that they were gone, Zhang Zian felt some dismay.
"Fixed Barracks, Floating Soldiers!"
Since it was a pet shop, the owner had to sell the pets. Money had to be made, or it would close down.
The pet industry had good and bad business practices. Every day there were new shops opening and old shops closing. Big fish ate small fish, while bad businesses drove out good businesses, which made the industry more vile.
The store might be quiet now, but soon it would be noisy again.